« PreviousContinue »
Flagrant as is the exaggeration of the Hindus, it is surpassed by that of the Buddhists. The Brahmadatta who figures so largely, in their sacred writings, as king of Benares' very likely was not a mythe;? but there is no ground for crediting that Gautama ever governed that city at all, notwithstanding that they represent him to have reigned there during nineteen several states of existence. In a similar spirit, they assert, that, at the same capital ruled, in turn, eighty-four thousand monarchs descended from Asoka.“ From these specimens it is manifest that the Buddhist scriptures are little to be trusted for throwing light on the history of Benares. That Buddhism, or any Buddhist king, ever dominated there is altogether problematical.
Some relevant details, scant, but interesting as far as they go, are derivable from the itinerary of Hiouen Thsang, a Buddhist pilgrim from China, who visited India in the first half of the seventh century. At that date, as he informs us, the kingdom of Vârâņasî had a circuit of eight hundred miles,' while its capital measured nearly four miles by somewhat more than one. The inhabitants of the kingdom were, for the most part, Hindus. These were, mainly, worshippers of Siva ; and among them were two classes of ascetics. Their temples amounted to a hundred, which gave lodgement to about ten thousand devotees.' The Buddhists, who are stated to have been much in the minority, kept up thirty religious houses, tenanted by three thousand inmates, all of the Sammatîya sect. In the capital were twenty Hindu temples, and a latten statue of Siva, a hundred feet in height. We are not apprised whether there were any sacred edifices of the pilgrim's fellowreligionists in the capital itself; and the obvious inference is, that there were none, or none worth commemorating. On the monasteries, towers, and reservoirs of the immediate vicinity, hallowed by Buddhist associations, Hiouen Thsang dwells at great length, and with that lingering and minutiose reminiscence which marks a credulous and fervid piety.
may be, to a large extent, equally products of ignorant mistake and misrepresentation. A good deal of weight has been allowed to this inscription; and it has been, from time to time, honoured as a piece of genuine historic evidence. Uncritically enough, I once followed the herd, myself, in this respect : see the Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, for 1862, p. 8, first foot-note. It now appears to me rash to see, in it, proof that Benares was subordinate to Gauda, or anything else whatever claiming reliance.
1 Burnouf's Introduction à l'Histoire du Buddhisme Indien, Vol. I., p. 140; and Mr. R. S. Hardy's Manual of Budhism, p. 101.
? Another king unknown to the Hindu records is spoken of by the Buddhists. His name is Bhimaśukla. See Der Buddhismus, translated from the Russian of Professor Wassiljew, Part I., p. 54.
: Mr. R. S. Hardy's Manual of Budhism, p. 134.
4 So states the Dipavañía. See the Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, for 1838, p. 927.
6 Mémoires sur les Contrées Occidentales, Vol. I., pp. 353, et seq.
1 “About four thousand lis.” On the length of the li, consult Father Vivien de Saint-Martin, in Mémoires, etc., Vol. II., pp. 256259.
* On M. Julien's own showing, both in the Mémoires and in the Méthode, one of these classes, that of naked mendicants, has the name, in Chinese translettering, of ni-kien-to, i.e., niggantha, or even nigánth, - a Prakrit word softened from the Sanskrit nirgrantha, which the French translation exhibits. Nowhere in his works does M. Julien acknowledge, what he must have known full well, that he constantly puts into the mouth of Hiouen Thsang Sanskrit words, where he really used Prakrit. But there was a theory to support; and facts must be fitted to it.
* In the first instance, M. Julien wrote : "On compte une centaine de temples des dieux (Déválayas) où habitent environ dix mille hérétiques, qui, la plupart, adorent le dieu Ta-tseu-tsaï-t'ien (Maheçvara déva).” And there should seem to be no improvement in his later rendering : “On voit une centaine de temples des Dieux. Il y a environ dix mille hérétiques qui, la plupart, révèrent le dieu Tatseu-thsaï (Maheçvara Dêva)."
The Chinese does not, to be sure, as the translator at first expressed it, literally quarter the aforesaid heretics in the temples, or, rather, monasteries; and yet its indefiniteness easily endures this interpretation. So I am informed by Professor Summers, my obligations to whom I shall presently acknowledge in connexion with a matter of graver import. And this construction alone quadrates with the previous context. For Hiouen Thsang makes Benares a large kingdom, and one in which the Hindus much outnumbered the Buddhists; and there must, then, have been many times ten thousand of the former.
One need do no more than collate M. Julien's two versions of Hiouen Thsang's short account of Benares, to be satisfied that the translator's notion of the sense of his original is, sometimes, of the vaguest.
Its name is not specified. Fă Hian--of the beginning of the fifth century, and so an earlier traveller than Hiouen Thsang,—is translated as speaking of “ la ville de Pho lo naï, dans le royaume de Kia chi.” Foě Kouě Ki, p. 304.
2 Two of these remembrancers of the Buddhist faith, towers at Sârnâth, beyond the Varaņâ or Burna, are still conspicuous landmarks. The larger of them is called, by the natives, Dhamekh,a corruption, in all likelihood, of an old word involving dharma as its first factor.
On the word of M. Stanislas Julien, Hiouen Thsang locates a monument au nord-est de la capitale, et à l'occident du fleuve de Po-lo-ni-8se (Vârâņaçî),” and tells of a certain monastery at the distance of “environ dix li au nord-est du fleuve de Po-lo-ni-sse (Vârâņaçi).” In a foot note, the phrase "à l'occident du fleuve de Po-lo-ni-8se (Vârâņaçi)” is explained to signify “à l'occident du Gange.”
As the Chinese pilgrim again and again names the Ganges, it seemed to me unlikely that he should anywhere speak of it by a periphrasis like that of “ the river of London.” I had observed, too, that, instead of “environ,” etc., M. Klaproth had written : “ Au nord [sic] de la ville coule la rivière Pho lo nå (Varaņā); sur son bord, à dix li de la ville," etc. ; Pho lo nå sse being, as he says just before, Hiouen Thsang's name for Benares. Moreover, in M. Julien's
That, in very early days, Benares attained to promi“Liste des Mots Abrégés ou Corrompus,” I noticed the entry " Polo-naï, faute pour Po-lo-ni-88e (Vârâņaçi) ;” and I was thereby unavoidably misled to the conclusion that Po-lo-naï, the so-called shortened or depraved form of Po-lo-ni-sse, must be employed in the original, the passage or passages containing it being left undesignated by the translator.
No one can give much thought to the labours of M. Julien, without detecting that they were never executed in contemplation of circumspect perusal. Warned by my past experience, and weighing the premises just recited, I at once suspected management, issuing in the obliteration, in two places, of the river Varaņâ. I had recourse to Professor James Summers, a distinguished Sinologist; and my suspicion was changed into certitude.
Especially ought M. Julien to have abstained from mending his text here by guess, above all unconfessedly, inasmuch as, where the name Po-lo-ni-sse is first introduced, there is, in the Chinese, a gloss,—delusively appropriated by the translator, as we have seen,notifying that the kingdom so named had aforetime been called, by mistake, Po-lo-nai ; the spelling, in passing, of the Foč Kouě Ki. It was not, surely, to be expected, that, close to this notification, we should find and not once only, but twice, —Po-lo-nie (Varaņa), if Polo-ni-sse (Vârâņasî) had been intended. M. Julien, however, deemed otherwise ; and he unavowedly took for granted, besides, that, in both these instances, Po-lo-nie was a corruption of the already corrupt Po-lo-naï.
Father Vivien de Saint-Martin, in his geographical commentary on M. Julien's translation, is pleased to substitute, for “fleuve de Po-lo-ni-8se (Vârâņaçî),” “rivière Po-lo-ni-ssé (Varâņasî);” and he proceeds to suggest, -as I have shown above, in note 2 to p. xviii.,that the city of Benares borrowed its appellation from that of this imaginary stream, held, by him, to be identical with the 'Epévvedis of Arrian.
More than this, M. Julien, in one of his Indexes, writes “ Vârâņaçi, rivière, aujourd'hui Barna, l'Erinésès des Grecs ;” and the violence which Father Vivien de Saint-Martin does to his text has, thus, his
nent fame is a conclusion scarcely indicated by documentary evidence. And so it was during the period of the Buddhists. So far as we know, these sectarios, unlike the Muhammadans, never assumed an attitude of implied acquiescence. So important an alteration of opinion as that herein involved certainly called for specific acknowledgment in his “Errata Alphabétique,” a list which extends to seven pages.
In fine, M. Julien has no Sanskrit authority whatever for his “ Vârânaçi," i.e., Vârâņasi. Po-lo-ni-88e may, indeed, stand for Vârâņasî, but — so indeterminate is the Chinese alphabet, - may just as well disguise Vârâņasî, Varanasi, Varanasi, Bârânaši, and scores more of quadrisyllables. M. Julien allows us an option between Po-la-na-88e, Po-lo-ni-88e, Po-lo-ni-se, and P'o-lo-ni-sse, and between “Varâņaçi" and "Vârâņaçi." It cannot be proved that Hiouen Thsang did not hear, and do his best to spell, as the names of the river and city, Barņâ—the very word now used,—and Barânas. Indeed, the balance of probability is overwhelmingly in favour of the position, that the Indian proper names translettered by Hiouen Thsang were Prakrit, not Sanskrit. Perhaps it is not strange that M. Julien, in drawing up his suicidal Méthode, and even earlier, chose to shut his eyes to this presumption. Vide supra, p. xxvii., note 2.
“ With M. Julien's method, mathematical certainty seems to have taken the place of learned conjectures.” So we read, in the Saturday Review, Vol. XI., p. 247 (1861), in an article lately republished as Professor Max Müller's. Finding M. Julien's method to be much more precarious than it appears at first sight, I took occasion, some years ago, with ample detail of reasons, to reclaim against this heedless hyperbole of encomium. Continued examination has multiplied my arguments of protest; and I am convinced that one will do well to use M. Julien's volumes, valuable and instructive as they are, with constant caution.
That M. Julien, for all the self-complacent air of his Méthode, has struck out a single idea, save of detail, that was unknown to M. Rémusat and the editors of the Foě Kouě Ki, I have not succeeded in discovering
Mémoires sur les Contrées Occidentales, etc., Vol. I., p. 354; Vol. II., pp. 345, 360, 361, 479, 562: Foě Kouě Ki, p. 307: Histoire de la Vie de Hiouen-Thsang, etc., pp. 83, 132, 429, 464: Chips from a German Workshop, Vol. I., p. 296: Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, for 1861, pp. 334-336.